5 Nonprofit Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Did you know that the average open rate for the nonprofit organization is around 25.17%, much higher than the industry average open rate, which is just 21.33%? According to Mailchimp a well-established digital marketing automation platform ― email marketing is one of the most effective channels for nonprofit organizations. Here are 5 nonprofit email marketing mistakes to avoid. 

As a nonprofit organization, email marketing should be one of your top priorities.

To help you understand this, let’s look at Campaign Monitor’s research which states, that ‘donors prefer email.’ Around 42% of donors prefer to hear from nonprofits via emails. That means it’s time to work on your email marketing strategy. 

However, it can take a lot to make your email marketing strategy work. That’s why we bring you a list of mistakes that you should avoid in your next fundraising campaign.

1. Overlooking mobile users

Gone are the days when people were restricted to their laptops for checking out emails. Now, mobile phones are used to check emails. OptinMonster states that 58% of individuals check their emails the first thing in the morning with a sip of a coffee.  

So you must optimize email templates for mobile users to ensure higher open-rates and click-through rates.


  • Use templates that are optimized for mobile devices
  • Avoid subject lines over 30 characters.
  • Ensure the header text is compelling and no more than 40-50 characters.
  • Make the image size and text compatible with each other.
  • Have an appealing CTA button 
  • Link to a mobile-friendly landing page

2. Poor segmentation

For a nonprofit organization, the primary goal for sending an email is to grab donors’ attention, and if that’s true for you, too, segmenting should be the first thing you should work upon. An eye-opening report authored by Brett Schenker states, 

“Nonprofits lose about $15,000 per year of donations due to wrong targeting and missing out spam filters, which blocks the emails from prospects.”

So, to ensure that your emails reach out to potential donors, segmenting must be taken seriously.


  • Make sure your users have opted-in to your email list
  • Get as much information from users as possible during the signup process to strengthen demographic segmenting.
  • Use an effective email tool for precise segmentation, with different messages for volunteers and donors.
  • Segment audience based on their area of interest and draft personalized content
  • Use a unique message strategy for donors depending upon their contribution.
  • Target an audience that actually/ frequently reads your emails
  • Try using different templates and messages for users that are not engaging with your current emails.

3. Buying mailing lists

When it comes to email marketing, most nonprofits rely on buying mailing lists, and it has its own pros and cons. At the first glance, having thousands of email addresses seems like a great opportunity. 

However, the long term effects of using a third-party collected email database could be daunting. One of the main downsides could be a poor response rate or spamming of your emails.   


  • Follow a personalized approach. Remember you’re talking to real humans.
  • Buy only from a reputed vendor. 
  •  If buying, ensure that the list matches your target audience and geographic region 
  • Avoid using any spam buzzwords in the subject line. 
  • Work on optimizing signup forms
  • Host webinars to reach out to a new audience
  • Use digital marketing as a channel and collect email addresses via social media marketing.
  • Insert social media sharing buttons on emails

4. Sending too many emails 

A nonprofit’s objective is to do something good for society, and that must be the vision even while sending emails. When sending too many emails, the chances are high that your potential donors will block your email as spam. 

Platforms like Gmail consider an email unproductive for the receiver when the open-rate or click-through rate is low. And if such platforms find repeated emails, they will, by default, move it to the spam folder. This will damage your organization’s name and strain your digital marketing budgets due to lower ROI from such emails. 


  • Decide upon the right frequency of sending emails depending upon statistics of essential metrics like open rates, unsubscribe rate, CTR, and conversation rates.
  • Pay attention to the week’s time and day – Sundays have the highest open rates; Mondays have the lowest bounce rate, Wednesdays have the lowest email available rates and highest bounce rates.

5. Using bad subject lines

It’s said that a clear subject line must always be creative and reader-centric, and if you want to catch the attention of your donors, you should refrain from using the same subject lines over and over.

Though some words like “Giving Tuesday” & “Gift,” and “Give” almost always work, merely restricting them might not be helpful in the long run. 


  • Draft subject lines based on the occasion.
  • Pose a question.
  • Use the power of emphasizing.
  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Remember to thank your donors

The Parting Note:

As all say, email marketing is here to stay, so plan your digital marketing campaigns and email marketing strategies accordingly and maximize the ROI from your fundraising campaigns without committing any of the above-listed errors and mistakes. 

All the best for all future email marketing endeavors!

If you would like more information on email marketing check out our blog post on Do’s and Don’ts of Email Marketing During a Crisis.

Author Bio:

Ankit Thakor is a strategic thinker and visionary who can see the big picture and focus on key issues to accomplish established goals. He is a Saas Marketing Specialist at SoftwareWorld – Software Technology Review and Rating Platform.

email mistakes

Ankit Thakor

Ankit Thakor is a strategic thinker and visionary who can see the big picture and focus on key issues to accomplish established goals. He is a Saas Marketing Specialist at SoftwareWorld - Software Technology Review and Rating Platform.

January 28, 2021

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